“The numbers speak for themselves – Monday is a very important day as we kick-start the engine room of operations in this country,” said Huw Edwards, Managing Director of ukactive.
Talks are already underway for June 21, when the government hopes to lift restrictions but is considering how some Covid-safe measures can remain in place, such as some form of certification. This could require people attending certain facilities or events to show they have either tested negative for Covid-19, have been vaccinated or recently had the virus.
“We’re discussing this with the government right now,” Edwards said. “If there should be some level of certification, we need to make sure there is no discrimination against customers and employees.
“Our industry has unique characteristics in terms of volume, age profile and workforce. There’s a clear difference between going to Wembley for a one-off event and being a season ticket holder going to football every two weeks or going to the gym four or five times a week.”
Edwards also said there would be “awkward and uncomfortable questions from communities” if the reality on Monday was that a significant number of public leisure facilities could not reopen due to the huge financial cost of the past year. “There is a real opportunity to think creatively about how we can get more people more active and really incorporate a focus on exercise, fitness and well-being into government work,” Edwards said.
What will reopen on Monday?
Gyms, indoor pools and other indoor exercise facilities will reopen in the second phase of the easing. However, it remains against the rules to meet for an indoor workout with someone who is not part of your household. Indoor exercise classes can also only resume after a further easing of lockdown measures on May 17th. Sports and outdoor facilities mostly resumed on March 29.
How different will it look?
The sector will return under protocols that were in place and in place between July and December last year. These included social distancing, limiting the number of users at any one time, additional sanitization and encouraging users to be ready at the gym or pool to minimize time in the locker room areas. These measures have ensured that no Covid status certification will be required when reopening.
“We point to the evidence that we were effectively Covid-safe,” said Huw Edwards, ukactive’s chief executive. “The teams do a great deal to ensure the safety of our workforce and customer base, but also the enjoyment and satisfaction of this experience.”
Will all gyms, swimming pools and leisure centers survive?
Around 400 leisure facilities have already been lost and almost a third of public leisure facilities could not reopen when restrictions were lifted earlier in July. This included around 200 swimming pools. Leading companies in the industry are urgently demanding various tax breaks and incentive systems, such as B. an extension of the VAT cut, but also a bespoke public leisure fund worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
“That needs to happen sooner rather than later for public leisure to function beyond milestone dates,” Edwards said. “We need an extension of the VAT cut and a public leisure fund to complement the reopening.”
Neil Randall, the chief executive of Anytime Fitness, has also this week called for a government contribution to gym memberships and “investment in wellbeing” grants to enable employers to offer facilities to create a healthier workforce.
Will they be accessible to all users?
Due to the different protocols and locking rules, there will be restrictions on the number and also on some classes. Restrictions particularly impacted disability groups between July and November last year, and this week there was a renewed call to ensure equal access when facilities reopen. People with disabilities are more concerned about leaving home to be active and are disproportionately affected by national reductions in activity levels.
“The past year has taught us that activity plays a big part in all of our lives,” said Barry Horne, executive director of the Activity Alliance. “People with disabilities have been hit hardest by the pandemic, so now is the time to do everything we can to make our places and spaces as welcoming as possible. Millions of people with disabilities must not be forgotten or missed out on the tremendous physical and mental health benefits of being active.”
When could they fully reopen without restrictions and could that then require a Covid certificate?
The government roadmap is working towards 21 June as a potential wider reopening of all facilities without restrictions. It has already been discussed whether a Covid status certification would then apply to gyms and leisure centers and what that might look like. Such a requirement will no longer exist from Monday when Covid-secure protocols are in place. The sector insists that its “unique” characteristics should be carefully considered in terms of its customer volume and the age profile of its customers and employees.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2021/04/10/reopening-gyms-different-will-do-need-covid-certificate/ how different will it be and do I need a Covid certificate?